Innovations + Trends in University Student Housing

Innovations + Trends in University Student Housing


A survey of 12 recently completed university student housing projects in the United States to identify current trends and innovative practices. Projects were evaluated based on their approaches to sustainability, socialization, spatial programming, contextual integration, and living-learning environments.

Some key findings…

Studies on residence hall attrition have found that poor living conditions, such as small rooms, poor study conditions, and lack of privacy, influence students to move off campus.

The dining hall or community kitchen is a key element to fostering a sense of community. Whether going with a group of friends or arriving by themselves, students are likely to encounter friends with whom to sit. A lonely meal is possible, but it takes effort.

Perhaps surprising in light of the push to integrate in-class and out-of-class experiences is the data indicating that more than 50% of Living Learning Communities (LLCs) fail to include any academic components. While there is evidence to suggest the potential of LLCs to impact student learning greatly, simply having an LLC does not guarantee that it will be successful.

As LLCs continue to proliferate at colleges and universities, a greater understanding of the cultural components that are most effective at leading to positive outcomes for students is warranted. Universities that identify and celebrate local culture and place are far more successful in delivering a housing product that not only provides a place to reside but a stronger and more productive student community.


Jacob GineS
Becky Hawkins

Associate Principal, Method Studio
Partner, Method Studio


Maria Degtyareva is a third-year architecture student at Mississippi State University, originally coming from Novosibirsk, Russia. In her research, Maria investigates the role of architectural design in student academic success based on case studies of college dormitories. Maria’s interests include the theory of architecture used to inspire personal well-being and the relationship of structural systems as the origin of architectural beauty.